In this response I’m going to write about Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists.” In my time at Hamilton thus far I have read a good bit about feminism, but Adichie’s text is probably my all time favorite thing I’ve read on this topic. In retelling her childhood story of growing up a Black woman in Nigeria, Adichie succinctly and powerfully conveys the severity of the problems of gender relations in Nigeria. Adichie tells countless stories of society (mostly men) trying to convince her that because she is a woman she can never amount to anything, that her goal in life should simply be finding a man to marry. She brilliantly confronts this narrative by encouraging a shift in the standards of child raising. One of my favorite quotes from this text was Adichie’s denunciation of using the term “human rights” to discuss gender. Adichie argues that “to choose the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender.” This explanation of the importance of word choice is spot on–small decisions such can actually have a large impact on how people respond and think about the problem.
To piggyback on this discussion of Adichie, I really enjoyed our class discussion about Beyonce that followed the music exercise. I am admittedly not a huge follower of Beyonce and therefore am no expert on her feminist agenda, yet I found our class’ interpretation of her song “Flawless” very interesting. The song is widely accepted as an anthem of feminism, but there is very little that is feminist about it outside of Adichie’s verse. It’s an interesting juxtaposition because it really makes Adichie stand out, but by placing such a powerful message in this relatively commercial song is almost a bastardization of Adichie. Beyonce has taken Adichie out of context and weakened her message, however has also given Adichie a lot more publicity than she could have gotten on her own. I really loved this discussion because it once again showed the level of depth and conversation this class is willing to have.